What exactly is a panther? I recently received an email, probably in regards to the recent black panther wallpapers that I posted, stating that there is no such thing as a panther. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to clear up any confusion as to what the word panther actually refers to.
First, it is correct that there is no one single species of cat called a panther. The word panther is most commonly used as an alternative name for the Leopard (Panthera pardus). Panthers are also a popular mascot for some sports teams, including the UNI Panthers, where I went to college, and the Carolina Panthers NFL team.
The confusion occurs because over the years the term panther became a common name for any large wild cat with a black coat, or melanistic coloration. The most common large wild cats found with this characteristic are the Leopard and the Jaguar. Less commonly found include the Puma, the Clouded Leopard and other small wild cats.
These melanistic cats are often found in the same litter as normally marked ones! If you look really close in the photo above, you will clearly see the spots on this Leopard!
This black coloration of the wild cat’s coat is simply due to a gene mutation.
What’s a mutation? I will refer you to this article which better explains mutation.
I hope this will help anyone who wonders about Panthers!
Photo credits: Eric Isselée – Fotolia
Eric Gevaert – Fotolia
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked
You must be logged in to post a comment.